Friday, December 30, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 25-12-2016)

Though the Hyderabad Book Fair was on I decided to go to Abids on Sunday morning since it has become a habit I cannot avoid. None of my friends had come so I was pretty much alone browsing the books spread out on the pavements. Some of the sellers who had set up stalls at the Book Fair were not to be seen. Though I did not find anything at Abids I found one title at Chikkadpally on my way home. I found a crime fiction title that turned to have been made into a movie that was more successful than the novel. I found ‘Bullitt’ by Robert L Pike that was wrapped in plastic. The cover was half torn but I bought it since the price was only twenty rupees.

I hope I'll get to see the movie someday. Another movie of a novel I like very much is 'Get Carter' and this is a movie I also hope to watch soon if I am lucky enough to find either a DVD or something like that somewhere.

The Book Fair Haul-II

After my first visit to the 30th Hyderabad National Book Fair that I made on the second day of the fair I made a couple more visits, on holidays usually because I am working someplace out of Hyderabad. On my second visit to the HNBF I found the English translation of Dharamvir Bharti’s ‘ Sooraj ka Saatva Ghoda’ in the National Book Trust stall. It was titled ‘ The Sun’s Seventh Horse’ and was priced at just twenty five rupees. I picked this title right away. However I had meant to buy another title that I had been looking for- Vinod Kumar Shukla’s ‘Naukar ka Kameez’ the English translation of which was also there in the NBT stall but for some reason I did not find it. I had seen another English translation of the same title but published by Penguin in the book fair but the stall owner where I saw it couldn’t trace it. Since I found that NBT has a stall in OU I decided to by Shukla’s book some other time.
On my third visit I picked up another title I had been looking for a good copy of. It was Anuradha Roy’s ‘An Atlas of Impossible Longing’ that I had seen earlier but did not buy because the price was too high. I saw this copy with a Hyderabadi second hand book seller who had his stall at the fair and for some reason he came down on the price and gave it to me for just a hundred rupees. It was a beautiful copy and I am looking forward to read this much praised book sometime in the first few weeks of January.
On my next visit to the book fair on Christmas day I found that the crowd was a much larger one than what I had seen on my earlier visits. It was the penultimate day of the book fair and also a holiday hence the large crowds. It was a sight to watch all the stalls packed with people looking at books and buying them by the dozen. But I bought just one book again. Somehow I kept putting off buying some titles that I had seen and that I thought nobody would buy. That way I missed buying a good copy of Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ and also a beautiful copy of ‘The Snow Leopard’ by Peter Matthiessen that I saw in a stall that was selling all books for just thirty rupees. They were gone when I went looking for them.
I saw another copy of ‘The Rings of Saturn’ by WG Sebald at one of the second hand book stalls. I had found the same title a couple of years back but the copy I bought had the first two pages missing. However the copy I found at the book fair on Christmas had the first two pages intact so I bought it. Even otherwise I would have bought it because it is a title that is difficult to find though I feel that not many people know about WG Sebald. I thought I was lucky to find this title that I got for just a hundred rupees.
I made another visit on the last day of the fair hoping to find some of the titles I missed buying. Though I did not find them I found another good book. The only book I bought on the last day was by an author I had read about only recently this year. I think it was in one of the issues of some newspaper where some authors listed out the titles by writers who are either underrated or are not so well known. In that article I read someone list out Naiyer Masud as one such writer. I found a collection of stories by Naiyer Masud titled ‘Snake Catcher’ which had the following eleven stories: Obscure Domains of Fear and Desire; The Woman in Black; Snake Catcher; Resting Place; Ganjefa; Weather Vane; Custody; Epistle; Lamentation; Allam and Son and; The Big Garbage Dump.

It was a brand new copy but I got it for only hundred rupees. This is another welcome addition to the growing list of short story collections I had picked up this year. I think 2016 stands out for the most number of short story titles that I have managed to find during the year.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Book Fair Haul-I

For the first time in many years I missed the first day of the Hyderabad Book Fair. I was in Hyderabad but attending a meeting that went on until half past time which was the time the Book Fair closed. So I went the next day. I don’t know if it was the effect of the demonetisation or something else I wasn’t very excited about the Book Fair. And when I entered the fair I was even more depressed after looking around at the stalls. There were less than ten stalls selling second hand books and three fourths of them seemed to be of sellers who are at Abids. I could see only three stalls of second hand books that were from other places. Last year there were more than ten second hand book stalls put up by sellers from Mumbai, Ahmedabad and other places. I did not expect to find many good titles in these stalls but I was wrong. I managed to find a decent haul of five books on my first visit to the 30th Hyderabad National Book Fair.
In the second hand book stall put up by Prateek Books from Mumbai I found five good titles. I was looking for a good copy of ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’ by Alan Paton after I read his autobiography ‘Towards the Mountain’ recently. I saw a good copy of ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’ and picked it up. Next I saw a good copy of ‘The Pedant in the Kitchen’ by Julian Barnes. It seemed to be something about cooking and I just picked it up without a second thought because it was by Julian Barnes.
Sometimes one finds books from the collections of famous people if one buys only second hand books. Though I haven’t found any book from the collection of anyone famous I found a book at the Book Fair. The thing about being in a particular profession is that one collects books relating to that profession only. So when I saw a copy of ‘Jean Luc Godard’ from the library of Sunil Dutt and Nargis Dutt I wasn’t surprised. But I was surprised how the book came to be with a second hand book seller. I wonder how many such books were in that library and what had happened to the rest of the collection in the library. But I felt a bit of a thrill holding that book that the two famous actors Sunil and Nargis Dutt would have held in their hands.
The next book I found was also an interesting one. It had the name ‘VIJAY TENDULKAR’ written on one of the inside pages along with the date- 24th July 1982. I wonder if it belonged to the famous playwright or someone else with the same name. The book was a copy of ‘Paris Review Interviews: Writers at Work’ 2nd Series. It had interviews of fourteen famous writers: Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, T.S. Eliot, Boris Pasternak, Katherine Anne Porter, Henry Miller, Aldous Huxley, Ernest Hemingway, S.J.Perelman, Lawrence Durrell, Mary McCarthy, Ralph Ellison, and Robert Lowell. I have one in another series with a different set of writers that I had bought a long, long time back.
In another stall of second hand books set up by another outstation seller I found a copy of ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. This is one title that I cannot resist buying whatever the cost. The copy I found was a Tenth Anniversary Edition by Scribner. The cover has a picture of Stephen King sitting in his study, writing while his pet dog looks from under his legs at the camera. I got this book for hundred rupees which I thought was a fair price.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 11-12-2016)

Though I enjoy being at Abids every Sunday I am not always comfortable with the weather. In the summer it is the heat and in the rainy season, of course, it is the rain that plays spoilsport. My favourite season for the weather is winter that begins here from October and lasts until February. During this period the mornings are sunny and pleasant making it possible to browse for hours together in the open.
Now it is winter in Hyderabad and I am enjoying the weather here. Last Sunday despite the glorious morning my haul at Abids wasn’t impressive. I found only one good title but that was a fantastic find. In a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees I found a Penguin 60s title: ‘Bon Voyage, Mr President’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is a small book, just small enough to fit snugly into the shirt pocket. This title is a collection of four short stories: Bon Voyage, Mr President; Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane; I Only Came to Use the Phone; and Light is Like Water. I read ‘Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane’ which was a beautiful story.

I was with my friends and we found five almost new paperback copies of ‘The Emperor of All Maladies’ by Sidhartha Mukherjee. I had already bought one long ago but my friends wanted to pick up three copies. The seller quoted an astronomical price but we drove a hard bargain managing to drive him to desperation until he yielded and gave us the books at hundred rupees for each copy.

With this haul I have bought a total of 143 books this year and there are still two Sundays to go not to mention the Hyderabad Book Fair that began yesterday (15-12-2016). My total haul in 2016 will easily cross a hundred and fifty books. Next year I will get rid of an equal number of books because there is no space at home to keep all the books since all my shelves and table are overflowing with books. I hope I will be able to get rid of some books which is one of the hardest things to do if you love books as much as I do.

Friday, December 09, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 27-11-2016)

It sounds too good to be true but almost every Sunday I return home from the pavement book bazaar at Abids with at least one gem. There seems to be no end to the treasures one can find on the pavements at Abids where the booksellers display their wares. The Sunday before last (on 27-11-2016) I found another wonderful title, a collection of short stories, as it happens.

Since the past few Sundays I am finding at least one good short story collection. A couple of Sundays earlier I had found Alan Paton’s ‘Debbie Go Home.’ On the first Sunday of last month I had found ‘Waves’ by Sundara Ramaswamy. The Sunday before last I found a story collection by an author I had been quite eagerly searching for since a long time. I haven’t come across a single title by Katherine Mansfield so far and I was determined that I’d dig out at least one book by her either at Abids or in one of the half a dozen second hand bookstores in Hyderabad.
So I found what I was searching for. I came across an ancient copy of ‘The Garden Party’ by Katherine Mansfield. It was a Penguin title printed in 1958. It has the following fifteen stories: At the Bay; The Garden Party; The Daughters of the Late Colonel; Mr and Mrs Dove; The Young Girl; Life of Ma Parker; Marriage a la Mode; The Voyage; Miss Brill; Her First Ball; The Singing Lesson; The Stranger; Bank Holiday; An Ideal Family; The Lady’s Maid. I got this book quite cheap, just forty rupees.
Another find was a title I had read somewhere and had added the title to my list of books to buy. It was ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield which I hadn’t expected to find at Abids. But it was at Abids that I found it. For once my bargaining skills were no use in the face of a stubborn seller who seemed to be new to Abids. I gave in and paid him the hundred rupees he asked for this slim title.